Marijuana Law, Policy & Reform

Editor: Douglas A. Berman
Moritz College of Law

Thursday, April 3, 2014

Lawsuit against police who forced marijuana on protesters moves forward

In what has to be one of the more unusual police misconduct cases involving drugs, a group of protesters are suing the police for getting them high.  The case involves a group of Minnesota police officers who pushed marijuana on Occupy Minneapolis protesters as part of a training program to teach officers how to recognize when people are under the influence of drugs.  

A few days ago, a district court denied the officers' motion to dismiss the lawsuit.  The opinion's introduction (PDF) provides the highlights:

This lawsuit challenges the actions of law enforcement officials and entities involved with a Drug Recognition Evaluation (“DRE”) program through which law enforcement officers are trained to identify when citizens are under the influence of illicit drugs. Several individuals involved in the Occupy Minneapolis (“Occupy”) protests bring this action against a long list of law enforcement officials–in both their individual and official capacities–alleging that the officers targeted them to serve as test subjects for the program and provided them with substantial amounts of marijuana in violation of their rights under the First and Fourteenth Amendments of the United States Constitution. 



The Court finds that the allegations by some Plaintiffs and with regard to some Defendants adequately state claims for the violation of their constitutional rights. First, the allegations that certain Defendants administered large amounts of an illicit drug to Plaintiffs after intimating threats of arrest without first informing Plaintiffs of the risks or checking their medical histories and with no therapeutic purpose state a claim for violation of Plaintiffs’ clearly established substantive due process right to bodily integrity. Second, allegations that those Defendants chose to target Plaintiffs with this practice based on their participation in a protest state a claim for violation of their clearly established First Amendment rights. The Court therefore will deny Defendants’ motions to dismiss with regard to claims by Plaintiffs Michael Bounds and Forest Olivier against Defendants Jacobson, Kenneth Willers, Karl Willers, and John Does 1 and 2 in their individual capacities and will dismiss without prejudice all claims against those Defendants in their official capacities, all claims against all other Defendants, and all claims by all other Plaintiffs.

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